CORRECTION: In the earlier version of this article on Yates County sharing the occupancy tax, we incorrectly stated: “In 2017, the County realized more than $11 million in occupancy tax revenue.” According to Yates County Treasurer Winona Flynn, Yates only collected $567,168 for 2017 and $5,434 for prior years. Of the half that the County keeps, 20 percent goes toward funding natural and recreational resources.
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The Yates County Legislature will allocate $325,000 from county occupancy tax revenues to nine organizations that will use the funds for programs that will help bring more tourists to the county in the future.
The legislators unanimously approved the recommendations of the Tourism Advisory Committee Oct. 9 during their regular meeting.
Gene Pierce of Glenora Wine Cellars and the Inn at Glenora and Jessica Bacher of the Yates County Chamber of Commerce reported on the committee’s recommendations:
• Yates County Tourism Promotion Agency (Chamber of Commerce): $185,000
• Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism: $70,000
• Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance: $21,860
• Yates County Chamber of Commerce: $16,285
• Finger Lakes Museum: $10,000
• Keuka Outlet Trail: $8,400
• Mom’s 5K Run (Penn Yan Airport): $5,000
• The Windmill: $4,750
• Yates County History Center: $3,000
The committee received applications from 18 organizations with 20 requests for a total of over $666,000.
The Tourism Advisory Committee is an advisory committee appointed by the legislature to make recommendations for the use of a portion of the county’s occupancy tax revenue, which was established at 4 percent of the room rate in 2007.
According to Yates County Treasurer Winona Flynn, Yates collected $567,168 for 2017 and $5,434 for prior years (corrected). Fifty percent of the revenues go directly to the county’s general fund. The amount allocated to the TAC comes from the remaining 50 percent, with a portion retained for reserves and an administrative fee.
The legislature determines the total amount of funds that the TAC can allocate to organizations. Of the half that the County keeps, 20 percent goes toward funding natural and recreational resources.
Pierce told the legislators the TAC has made some organizational changes with new bylaws. He said the committee is working with applicants to gain more details about return on investment. But he pointed out that the county has seen an increase in occupancy tax revenues. This year’s regular sales tax revenues so far show an increase of 6.6 percent over 2017.
Legislators commented they would be interested in getting more detail about what projects the funds will be used for by the organizations. Legislative Chairman Douglas Paddock said it will be discussed in more detail by the Finance Committee.
Other business at the Oct. 9 meeting included:
• Youth Detention: Yates County will enter into an agreement with other counties to work collaboratively with Treahy Consultation Services in establishing a Local Development Corporation for a joint county detention facility for youth. New York State law has raised the age of youthful designation from 16 to 17, which requires separate detention for more individuals who previously might have been considered adults. The maximum expense to the county for the agreement is $15,000. The resolution did not specify which other counties might be part of the LDC.
• Budget: The legislators received the proposed 2019 budget from Treasurer Noni Flynn, and set their workshops for Tuesday, Oct. 30 and Wednesday, Oct. 31 in the chambers.